Ward Wilbur's aunt describes him as a kind man and a hard worker.
Shirley Seney, former Lake Placid mayor and town of North Elba supervisor, said the family is heartbroken by Wilbur's death earlier this week. Wilbur, 65, was allegedly beaten and stabbed to death by an ex-girlfriend in her Saranac Lake apartment sometime Monday morning.
Seney said Wilbur was one of two children her sister, Dorice Torrance, had from her first marriage to Ward E. Wilbur.
The younger Wilbur grew up in Lake Placid, graduated from Lake Placid High School in 1965 and worked in construction for much of his life, Seney said. He never married.
"He was a wonderful carpenter and a wonderful painter," she said. "A year ago, he and his brother had done work around our home. No matter what it was he did, he was a perfectionist. He loved the work that he did, and people who hired him appreciated his expertise."
Wilbur's obituary, published in today's Enterprise, said he also attended Plattsburgh State University and had served in the U.S. Air Force.
"He was a kind-hearted young man and always there to help you if you needed something done," Seney said. "He was soft-spoken. I remember from when he was a baby that he had beautiful brown eyes."
Seney said she heard about her nephew's death from his sister, Alta Dostal, who lives in Massachusetts and was in town this week for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"She came over to the house and told me this had happened," Seney said. "I immediately called my sister (Wilbur's mother). She's devastated. I just can't believe this happened."
Seney said she didn't know much about Wilbur's connections in Saranac Lake or anything about the woman suspected of killing him, 29-year-old Angela Ball.
Seney said Tuesday that the family still plans to get together for Thanksgiving dinner.
"We need each other right now," she said. "This is the first tragedy we've ever had in our family. I'm sorry it happened, and I don't know why it had to happen. The Lord works in mysterious ways."